UPSC 2017: Comprehensive News Analysis - December 13

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. RTI and its application to Higher Judiciary
2. Human Rights in India: Role of Government
3. Special courts to try politicians, Centre informs SC
4. Jallikattu issue to go to Constitution Bench
5. Electoral bonds likely to carry validity of 15 days
6. Naveen writes to PM on Mahanadi issue
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS
1. India, Australia call for ‘open’ Asia-Pacific zone
2. Govt, ASEAN in talks to take IMT highway up to Vietnam
HEALTH ISSUES
1. Centre to give Rs.500 to TB patients every month
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Investment facilitation, norms for small firms gain push at WTO talks
2. Cashless Economy and Bail in Clause
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. RTI and its application to Higher Judiciary

  • The Delhi high court has recently held that the Right To Information (RTI) Act would not override the Supreme Court Rules (SCR) when it comes to dissemination of information.
  • The RTI Act cannot be resorted to in case the information sought for is related to judicial function, which can be challenged by way of any legal proceeding.
  • The SCR would be applicable with regard to the judicial functioning of the Supreme Court. Whereas for administrative functioning of the Supreme Court, RTI Act would be applicable and information could be provided under it.
  • The dissemination of information under the SCR is part of judicial function, exercise of which cannot be taken away by any statute. It is settled legal position that the legislature is not competent to take away the judicial powers of the court by statutory prohibition.
  • The court’s order came on a plea by the Supreme Court of India, through its Registrar, who had challenged an May 2011 order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) directing the apex court to answer the queries of litigant R.S. Misra as to why his SLP was dismissed.
  • No litigant can be allowed to seek information through an RTI application or a letter on the administrative side as to why and for what reasons the judge had come to a particular decision or conclusion.
  • A judge is not bound to explain later on for what reasons he had come to such a conclusion.
  • At issue is the right of citizens to get information from the Supreme Court , and by implication, India’s higher judiciary, which has strongly resisted the RTI.
  • The apex court summarily rejects RTI requests, and insists that applicants exclusively request information under its administrative rules (Supreme Court Rules) framed in 1966, and re-issued with minor changes in 2014.
  • However the Supreme Court Rules undermined the RTI in four key ways.
  • Unlike the RTI Act, the Rules do not provide for: a time frame for furnishing information; an appeal mechanism, and penalties for delays or wrongful refusal of information.
  • The nub of the matter is that the Supreme Court Registry wants to provide information at its absolute discretion.
  • Its brazen disregard for the RTI has now got a stamp of approval from a court of record.
  • The RTI has suffered another blow, not from the berated political class or the much maligned babus, but from the “gems of institutions” enjoined to protect the law.

2. Human Rights in India: Role of Government

 

  • December 10 is the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly.
  • As an early supporter of the UN movement and a constant participant in its deliberations, India has, in international fora, constantly endorsed the charter of rights that the declaration unfurled.

Constitution and Role of government

  • The constitutional provisions are inadequate by themselves and the role of government is fundamental in advancing them.
  • In fact, it is precisely because we cannot rely on civilisational values that may or may not be enshrined in the constitution to deliver us rights that we adopt democracy as the form of government.
  • Historically, votaries of civilisational values have struggled to break free of cultural prejudices and accord similar status to other civilisations.
  • Not very long ago, colonialism had been justified on civilisational terms, with the very term “civilised” being used to differentiate the West from the indigenous populations of the lands colonised by Europe.
  • Civilisational hubris abounds in claims of “the inclusivity of Hinduism” or “the egalitarianism of Islam”.
  • Whatever be the exhortations in the texts that underlie these religions, the history of caste and gender inequality in India and Islamic societies, respectively, show them to have been neither inclusive nor egalitarian.
  • It is clear that civilisational values, in our case Indian, are far from sufficient to deliver us the rights that we seek to make our own.
  • Though the UN’s declaration of human rights is expansive, Indian civilization has not had much success in ensuring their delivery.
  • If any progress has at all been made in the desired direction, it has been after the adoption of a democratic form of governance.
  • In terms of human development, 21st century India is radically different from what it was in the 20th century.
  • That economic inequality has steadily risen and ecological stress is written all over the country cannot take away from the fact that there has been progress of a form that has collapsed social distance.
  • There is social churning in India, with some of it having come through affirmative action and some of it through economic transformation in which the more recent liberalisation of the economy has had some role.
  • However, as India has managed to shed some of the centuries old practices that maintained social distance due to caste and economic differentiation, newer axes of power have emerged.
  • We have begun to see an unimaginable rise of violence against women and Muslims. Hardening patriarchy and Hindu chauvinism are India’s unanticipated demons.
  • The efficacy of constitutional provisions is entirely dependent on the government machinery entrusted to our elected representatives.
  • An effective protection of individuals, in this case women and minorities, from acts of violence requires the power of the state to weigh in on their side.
  • In too many cases of violence against women, Muslims and Dalits, the Indian state is distinguished by its absence.
  • We want to ensure the flourishing of all the peoples of India not out of self-preservation but because we want to be civilised and it reflects the true spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

3. Special courts to try politicians, Centre informs SC

 In news:

  • Special courts to try exclusively criminal cases involving MPs and MLAs: The Centre informed the Supreme Court that it will set up at least 12 special courts.
  • Supreme Court to directly interact with the State governments on issues like the appointment of judicial officers, public prosecutors, court staff and other requirements of manpower and infrastructure for the special courts.

Background:

  • The court on November 1 directed the Centre to place before it details of 1,581 cases involving MPs and MLAs, as declared by the politicians at the time of filing their nominations during the 2014 general elections.
  • The affidavit was in response to a Supreme Court direction in November to the government to frame a Central scheme for setting up special courts across the country exclusively to try criminal cases involving “political persons”.

Supreme Court’s observation:

  • It could take years, probably decades, to complete the trial against a politician.
  • By this time, he or she would have served as a Minister or legislator several times over.

4. Jallikattu issue to go to Constitution Bench

 In news:

  • The Supreme Court said a Constitution Bench would examine if the people of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra can conserve jallikattu and bullock cart races as their cultural right and demand their protection under Article 29 (1) of the Constitution.

About Article 29:

Article  29. Protection of interests of minorities

(1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same

(2) No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.

What happens if jallikattu is upheld as a cultural right?

  • If jallikattu is upheld by the Constitution Bench as a cultural right and a part of the “collective culture” of the people of Tamil Nadu under the Article, provisions of other laws that undermine the sport may run the risk of being struck down.

Ahmedabad St. Xavier’s College Society case

  • Supreme Court pointed out that the scope of Article 29 (1) does not necessarily confine to the cultural rights of minorities but may well include the majority.

Background information:

  • People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a petition, seeking the quashing of the new Jallikattu law passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly that brought bulls back into the fold of ‘performing animals’.
  • The PETA petitions contend that the 2017 Jallikattu Act and Rules violate the five internationally recognized freedoms — the freedom from hunger, malnutrition and thirst; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour.
  • The 2014 ban: Nagaraja judgment, the Supreme Court held jallikattu as cruelty to bulls.

5. Electoral bonds likely to carry validity of 15 days

 In News:

  • To prevent misuse of proposed electoral bonds, the government is likely to cap the validity at 15 days within which such bonds — bearer in nature — have to be redeemed by political parties
  • Such bonds would be bearer in nature so that those having it can encash through only one notified account within stipulated time
  • As per the electoral bond mechanism, the proposed bonds will resemble a promissory note and not an interest-paying debt instrument

Modus operandi:

  • Each party will have one notified bank account. All bonds are to be deposited in that particular account
  • It is a paper currency and needs to be encashed in 15 days, otherwise, it loses validity

Advantages:

  • The short duration of bonds will ensure these cannot be misused and the objective of reducing the incidence of black money in political funding is achieved

6. Naveen writes to PM on Mahanadi issue

  • Odisha Chief Minister has written a letter to Prime Minister, requesting issuance of instructions for the constitution of a tribunal to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
Basic Information:

Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956:

  • The Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (IRWD Act) is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted under Article 262 of Constitution of India on the eve of reorganization of states on linguistic basis to resolve the water disputes that would arise in the use, control and distribution of an interstate river or river valley.
  • Article 262 of the Indian Constitution provides a role for the Central government in adjudicating conflicts surrounding inter-state rivers that arise among the state/regional governments.
  • River waters use/harnessing is included in states jurisdiction (entry 17 of state list, Schedule 7 of Indian Constitution). However, union government can make laws on regulation and development of inter-State rivers and river valleys when expedient in the public interest (entry 56 of union list, Schedule 7 of Indian Constitution).
  • When public interest is served, President may also establish an interstate council as per Article 263 to inquire and recommend on the dispute that has arisen between the states of India
  • Whenever the riparian states are not able to reach amicable agreements on their own in sharing of an interstate river waters, section 4 of IRWD Act provides dispute resolution process in the form of Tribunal.

Article 262. Adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter State rivers or river valleys

(1) Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter State river or river valley

(2) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in clause ( 1 ) Co ordination between States

Article 263. Provisions with respect to an inter State Council:  

If any any time it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of a Council charged with the duty of

(a) inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between States;

(b) investigating and discussing subjects in which some or all of the States, or the Union and one or more of the States, have a common interest; or

(c) making recommendations upon any such subject and, in particular, recommendations for the better co ordination of policy and action with respect to that subject, in shall be lawful for the President by order to establish such a Council, and to define the nature of the duties to be performed by it and its organisation and procedure

Category: INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. India, Australia call for ‘open’ Asia-Pacific zone

 The “2+2” dialogue model:

  • The “2+2” dialogue was held between Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary of India and their Australian counterparts.
  • The dialogue indicated that the focus remains on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where China has been reclaiming land for infrastructure, boosting its maritime influence.
  • Australia and India discussed the need to maintain the Asia-Pacific region as a “free” and “open” zone under the “2+2” dialogue model which includes the foreign and defence secretaries of both sides.
  • Both sides agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large. There is a growing convergence of strategic perspectives between the two countries.

2. Govt, ASEAN in talks to take IMT highway up to Vietnam

 In news:
 
  • The government is in talks with ASEAN countries to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highway up to
  • India and ASEAN countries are holding consultations on the extension of the 1,360 km IMT highway — from Moreh in India to Mae-Sot in Thailand — to Laos, Cambodia and to Vietnam

Other agreements:

  • Another area on which the government is working to connect India with South East Asia is the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA)
  • India, Myanmar and Thailand in 2014 commenced negotiations for finalising and implementing the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA)

Advantages:

  • Connectivity can generate annually, an estimated USD 70 billion in incremental GDP and 20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025
  • Connecting India with the Southeastern countries through a network of road will create jobs, market for crops grown in hilly regions of the Northeast which will also help growers in getting better price for their produce

Category: HEALTH ISSUES

1. Centre to give Rs.500 to TB patients every month

 In news:

  • New social support announced by the center: About 35 lakh identified tuberculosis patients across the country will soon get Rs.500 every month.
  • This social support is intended to cover the loss of wages, travel and nutrition.

Key Fact:

  • It has come in to notice that, under-nutrition is an established risk factor for progression of latent TB infection to active TB.
  • Under-nutrition is a serious co-morbidity in patients with active TB in India, and increases the risk of severe disease, death, drug toxicity, drug malabsorption and relapse after cure.
  • In the absence of nutritional support, undernourished patients with TB do get enmeshed in a vicious cycle of worsening disease and under-nutrition, which can be detrimental and even fatal.
  • Food insecurity in household contacts of TB patients in India increases their risk of developing active TB. This has serious implications, especially for contacts of patients with multidrug-resistant TB.

Nutritional support and TB deaths:

  • TB is inextricably linked to determinants of health such as malnutrition and low immunity due to social deprivation and marginalisation.
  • Poor nutrition is increasing the risk by three-fold.
  • Nutritional support will help reduced TB deaths, which is currently at an estimated 4.8 lakh per year

 Why is nutrition important ?

  • Weights in TB patients are among the lowest in the world
  • 50% of adult men weigh below 43 kg
  • 50% of adult women weigh below 38 kg

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Investment facilitation, norms for small firms gain push at WTO talks

 In news:

  • Pakistan and China, have demanded taking forward discussions on investment facilitation and proposed norms relating to small firms.

India’s stance on these Issues:

  • According to India, these are “new issues” and, therefore, should be considered only after resolving outstanding issues relating to food security that are part of the ongoing round of negotiations which began in Doha in 2001.

Countries supporting investment facilitation claims:

  • The countries supporting the issue of investment facilitation said there were dynamic links between investment, trade and development in today’s global economy.
  • There was a need for closer international cooperation at the global level to create a more transparent, efficient, and predictable environment for facilitating cross-border investment.
  • These nations said they agreed that the right of members to regulate, in order to meet their policy objectives, shall be an integral part of the proposed multilateral framework on investment facilitation.
  • The framework shall also be designed to be flexible, adaptable, and responsive to the evolving investment facilitation priorities of members.

 ‘Draft Ministerial Decision’ on Investment Facilitation for

  • The discussions shall seek to identify and develop the elements of a framework for facilitating foreign direct investments that would:

(i) Improve the transparency and predictability of investment measures;

(ii) Streamline and speed up administrative procedures and requirements;

(iii) Enhance international cooperation, information sharing, the exchange of best practices, and relations with relevant stakeholders, including dispute prevention.

(iv)Facilitating greater developing and least-developed members’ participation in global investment flows should constitute a core objective of the framework.

MSMEs Issues were also highlighted:

  • Costs related to foreign trade operations represent a significant burden for the participation of MSMEs in international trade.
  • MSMEs from developing countries and especially the least developed countries face additional obstacles when participating in international trade.

2. Cashless Economy and Bail in Clause

 In news:
 
  • The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill enables the government to confiscate the deposits of ordinary citizens in order to save troubled public sector banks.
  • The “bail-in” clause of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill (FRDI) has led to worries about the safety of bank deposits.
  • It is the push by governments towards a cashless society.
  • The biggest challenge for a government launching a “bail-in” attack on deposits is that depositors can promptly withdraw their money from the bank by demanding cash.
  • Such an event can lead to severe bank runs and destabilise the banking system because bank deposits are only fractionally backed by actual cash.
  • Such rapid withdrawal of cash deposits, however, may slowly cease to be an option for depositors as the world increasingly turns away from cash and towards digital money.
  • When all of money in the world is digital, there is no question of banks having to meet depositors’ demand for cash.
  • So a cashless world will, once and for all, free banks from the obligation to meet cash demands from depositors, thus protecting them from any liquidity crisis.
  • More importantly, it would also strip depositors of the power to withdraw their deposits in the form of cash to escape any tax or other forms of confiscation by the government.

Why governments prefer moving towards a cashless society.

  1. Banks have been a major source of funding for governments and their economies across the world. Most of such lending happens through loans which are not backed by savings but instead through fresh money creation, which in turn leads to economic crises and bank runs led by depositors.
  2. A cashless world makes it easier for banks to carry out their business of credit creation without the risk of having to satisfy the demand for cash from depositors. Consequently, it prevents recurrent crises of liquidity that are faced by banks.
  3. Policies like negative interest rates, which would otherwise push depositors to rush out of banks to escape the tax imposed on their deposits, become more feasible under a cashless banking system in which depositors are essentially locked in by banks. Depositors in such cases will have no other option but to spend their money to escape a penalty on it.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

E. PRELIMS FACT

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Which one of the following is produced during the formation of 
photochemical smog?
  1. Hydrocarbon
  2. Nitrogen oxide
  3. Ozone
  4. Methane

See

Answer
Question 2. Epiphytes are plants which depend on other plants for
  1. Food
  2. Mechanical Support
  3. Shade
  4. Water

See

Answer
Question 3. Ergotism is due to consumption of
  1. Contaminated grains
  2. Rotting vegetables
  3. Contaminated water
  4. Safe cooked food

See

Answer
Question 4. Which of the following are plant macro-nutrient?

1. Iron
2. Copper
3. Chlorine
4. Nitrogen

Choose the correct answer

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2, 3 and 4 only
  3. 1 and 4 only
  4. 4 only

See

Answer
Question 5. What is the style of script in the Indus Valley Civilization?
  1. Boustrophedon
  2. Pictographic
  3. Hieroglyphic
  4. None of the above

See

Answer

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper II
 TOPIC: HEALTH ISSUES
 
  1. “Ultimately reduction of TB burden in India and its elimination will require improving the nutritional status of the community as a whole.” Discuss.
GS Paper IV
 

 TOPIC: CASE STUDIES
 
  1. Conflict of interest in the public sector arises when

    (a) official duties,

    (b) public interest, and

    (c) personal interest
    are taking priority one above the other.
    How can this conflict in administration be resolved? Describe with an example.
    (Mains 2017)

 
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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